The Nitty-Gritty

When actor Joe Pesci played Vinny Gambini in the 1992 hit film My Cousin Vinny, he put grits on the map –– at least for those residing above the Mason-Dixon line. At a roadside diner in rural Alabama, Gambini, a rough and tough New York attorney on his first visit down South, tells the line cook in his heady Brooklyn accent, “I never seen a grit before.” His loss. For centuries, Southerners have enjoyed their own special version of porridge or polenta. Traditionally, the hot and hearty corn-based dish was favored for breakfast, but in recent years, grits have made their way onto the dinner menu as an accompaniment for some amazingly gourmet meals. For a sophisticated twist on the Southern favorite, try this unique recipe.

Salmon with Grits and Caper-Cream Sauce       
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup drained capers
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/4 cups whipping cream
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup instant grits
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
4 7-ounce skinless salmon fillets
1 tablespoon olive oil

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

Add the capers and garlic, and sauté until the garlic begins to color, about 1 minute. Add the white wine, and simmer until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Add the whipping cream, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Bring the half-and-half, water and salt to a boil in a heavy large saucepan. Gradually whisk in the instant grits. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Add the Monterey Jack cheese, and stir until the cheese is melted and smooth. Season the grits to taste with salt and pepper. Remove them from the heat. Cover to keep warm.

Meanwhile, brush the salmon fillets with oil, and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the salmon fillets, and cook them until they are opaque in the center, about 4 minutes per side.

Place a spoonful of grits in the center of each of four shallow bowls. Spoon the sauce around the grits. Top the grits and sauce with salmon, and serve.

Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit

Digital Sponsors

Become a sponsor ...